Enterprise earns 'unbollweevible' honor

“Ready to build an unbollweevible Main Street Program,” is the way Main Street Alabama announced to the public June 3 that the City of Progress was chosen for official designation as a Main Street Alabama community.

“This town with a huge heart embraces a lot of small things,” said Main Street Alabama officials in making the announcement that Enterprise is one of three communities selected this year to bear the designation.

The other cities selected June 3 are Headland, Calera and the historic Fourth Avenue Business District in Birmingham.

Enterprise will now enter into a three-year agreement with Main Street Alabama and will hire a designated Main Street Alabama Administrator, according to City of Enterprise Tourism Director Tammy Doerer. Enterprise businesses are not required to be located downtown to be a part of the Main Street Committees, which include promotions, economic vitality, design and organization, she said.

“We did it,” Doerer exclaimed upon receiving the news. “I am so thankful and proud of the support we received for this project from our city, downtown leaders and the business and community leaders all over our city.

“This has been a major undertaking and it couldn’t have been done without the contributions of all who were involved,” Doerer said crediting Downtown Enterprise Business Association member Debbie Gaydos for being an advocate for Main Street from the beginning. Also contributing to the application process in addition to the City of Enterprise and DEBA were the Wiregrass Economic Development Corp., Enterprise Chamber of Commerce, Century 21 Regency Realty Inc., Southern Broadway and the Wiregrass Board of Realtors.

DEBA President Regena Lacey celebrated the news with a Facebook post. “Woo Hoo! We are so excited to have been chosen as a Main Street Alabama Designated City,” she wrote. “Many thanks to Tammy Doerer and the City of Enterprise for their support of our application. This is so exciting for the future of the heart of our city.”

Gaydos, also said she was thrilled by the announcement. As former DEBA president, Gaydos brought Main Street Alabama to the attention of downtown businesses and city council members, leading to Enterprise to join Main Street as a Network Community and consequently to apply for Designated status.

Gaydos felt Main Street would be a good option and now she is convinced Main Street has made a good choice in Enterprise. “Great people. Great city,” she said.

Whether participating in Main Street Alabama was a feasible option for the city of Enterprise has been discussed since 2017 when Enterprise Mayor William “Bill” Cooper and Councilmen Eugene Goolsby and Turner Townsend met with members of the Downtown Enterprise Business Association and a representative from Main Street Alabama.

A nonprofit organization, Main Street Alabama stresses public-private partnerships, broad community engagement, and strategies that create jobs, spark new investment, attract visitors, and spur growth, according to the Main Street Alabama Area Field Director Trisha Black.

Prior to the establishment of Main Street Alabama, the Alabama Historical Commission served as the state Main Street coordinating program until state budget cuts in 2003-2004 resulted in the loss of Main Street staff and funding.

Enterprise Tourism Director Tammy Doerer has served as the liaison between the Main Street Alabama staff and the city and has kept the council updated as the proposed plan to apply by the May 6 deadline has neared.

Two public meetings to outline the Main Street Alabama program were held March 14 at the Enterprise Farmers Market on Main Street. During the meetings Black discussed the benefits that are already being offered to Enterprise as a part of the Main Street network to include assistance, training, educational services, special events and networking opportunities.

Black also reviewed in detail the steps in the application process and the additional benefits that come with being named a designated Main Street community.

Enterprise has been a Main Street Alabama Network Community for about a year and this is the first time the city applied for Main Street Community Designation. The Enterprise City Council unanimously authorized Cooper to sign and submit the city’s application at the council meeting April 16 in advance of the May 6 application deadline.

Representatives from Enterprise traveled May 23 to Birmingham for a special Main Street Alabama presentation at the organization’s state headquarters. There, Doerer, City Special Projects Coordinator Kay Kirkland and actors from Downtown Enterprise’s Southern Broadway Dinner Theater presented the story of Enterprise to a panel of Main Street Alabama executives.

The presentation embodied Enterprise’s past, present and future while aligning with the four main ideals of Main Street Alabama which are design, promotion, economic vitality and organization, Doerer explained.

“Best known for a monument dedicated in 1919 to a destructive insect, Enterprise stands with the (Boll Weevil Monument as a symbol of man’s willingness and ability to adjust to adversity,” the Main Street Alabama judges wrote in their decision. “The inclination to embrace new crop ideas from one of Alabama’s most famous scientists, Dr. George Washington Carver, resulted in a stronger local economy and one of the largest peanut-producing areas in the United States.

“In further homage to tiny things, this community holds the Guinness Book of World Records title for hosting the world’s smallest St. Patrick’s Day Parade,” the decision continued. “We know that celebrating authenticity sets communities apart, so we are ready to amplify these efforts and build an unbollweevible program.”

According to Mary Helmer, state coordinator for the program, Main Street Alabama will immediately begin providing each of the three towns selected with intensive board development, goal setting, work planning, market study with implementable economic development strategies, targeted technical assistance and quarterly training related to downtown development. “When a community is ready for Main Street, the time tested Four Point Approach ® works,” Helmer said. “It brings jobs, dollars and people back to neighborhood commercial districts.”

Helmer said that the interview panel was impressed by the presentation made by the application team that demonstrated a love of their community, a vision for what they could be and the drive to make it happen. She noted that Enterprise had a long-standing merchant’s association that had functioned as an outstanding promotional arm for downtown Enterprise and a solid understanding of the Main Street Approach that will take their efforts to the next level, which made them stand out in the field of applicants.

“I think we definitely put our spirit forward; I’m very proud that we have such passion and talent that we could show, not only from our city but from our downtown businesses and citizens that were willing to volunteer time to tell our story,” said Doerer. “I think we really gave them an insight into how unique we are and how unique our message is.

“It has been a collaborative effort,” Doerer said. “The Main Street Designated City status will provide us the city planning and support we need in that direct area beyond just the promotion and marketing.”

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